Gut Function: Intestinal Mucosal Barrier

The intestinal mucosal barrier is said to be the body’s second skin. From the mouth to the anus, there is a mucosal barrier, which serves as the first line of defense against pathogens. The mucosal barrier also shows the body how to deal with food antigens, which may cause allergies and sensitivities.The mucosal barrier is also found in sinuses and genital defenses.

Testing for a damaged mucosal barrier can prove to be of enormous benefit for many individuals. Having a normal functioning and healthy intestinal muscosa is absolutely critical for:

  • Maintaining Optimal Immune Function
  • Normal, Healthy Gut Function
  • Proper Digestion & Assimilation of Food & Nutrients

The intestinal mucosa contains several immune antibodies known as immunoglobulins: sIgA, IgA, IgG and IgM.

IgA is the most abundant immunoglobulin in the gut mucosa.

The Biohealth 304 Intestinal Mucosa test measures immunoglobulin reactivity to specific food proteins. High or low reactivity correlates with potential damage to the mucosal barrier. If all immunoglobulins are low, then the mucosal barrier is totally shut down.

Healthy Intestinal Mucosa, Healthy Body

"A healthy gut is a healthy body." One of the best ways to prevent damage to your gut is to avoid precipitating factors that can cause inflammation and damage, such as:

  • Food Allergies
  • Toxins
  • Heavy Metals
  • Gluten Intolerance
  • Inadequate Diet

Food Allergies & Sensitivities

Food allergies and delayed sensitivities can cause damage to gut function by causing heightened immune responses. At first, the body will begin to mount a proper immune response to suspected foods. Over time, as there is increased damage to the gut, food allergies may become more severe. The most common food allergies are to:

  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Gliadin
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Nuts & Seeds

Toxins & Heavy Metals

Heavy metal toxicity is another factor that can damage and shut down gut function. Many people with deep metals toxicity also have intestinal dysbiosis, candida overgrowth, leaky gut, abdominal pain and compromised immune function.

Mercury toxicity from dental amalgams is a primary cause of mercury exposure and greatly contributes to the heavy metal body burden.

Inadequate Diet

Many diets that people follow tend to be inadequate for the long term health of the individual. Diets that lack tissue building protein, fats and fat soluble nutrients can contribute to the breakdown of intestinal function.

Many people who follow long-term vegan diets can end up with intestinal dysbiosis, colitis and catabolic breakdown of tissue.

Pre-Formed Vitamin A for Mucosal Immune Integrity

Vitamin A is a vitally important, fat soluble nutrient. It plays a crucial role in mucosal immune system integrity. Vitamin A is not found in any plant food. Pre-formed vitamin A is found exclusively in animal foods. Carotenoids are often mistakenly labelled as vitamin A. A certain percentage of carotenoids can be converted into vitamin A in the gut. However, if gut function is impaired, it may become exceedingly difficult for the gut to convert carotenoids into vitamin A.

A recent study from Newcastle University found that as many as 50% of women have a difficult time converting beta carotene into vitamin A in the gut, and thus may be deficient in retinoic acid.

Other studies suggest that excessive amounts of beta carotene under certain catabolic conditions, may lead to the production of toxic cleavage products, which can greatly damage cells.

When there are deficiencies of vitamin A, there is the tendency to produce a type of effector cell called TH17. TH17 can produce a pro-inflammatory cytokine called IL17.

The production of TH17 is heavily involved in autoimmune diseases. When there is adequate vitamin A (retinoic acid) present or in storage, the body can produce the essential TREGS (T regulatory cells) cells, which helps to maintain a tolerant mucosal immune system.

In addition to this, vitamin A provides protection against harmful pathogens by enhancing the production of the immunoglobulin IgA, which as we’ve discussed plays a critical role in mucosal immune system integrity.

For individuals suffering from compromised gut function, supplementing with tens of thousands I.U. of Vitamin A daily may help to normalize gut function. In addition, probiotics, especially the strain saccharomyces boulardii may greatly assist the restoration of immunological function.

Repairing the Mucosa

If there is damage to the gut mucosal barrier, a repair process needs to be put together. This may include:

  • Anabolic nutrients
  • Synergists and herbal formulae
  • A diet that is tailored to your individual metabolism and body chemistry

If you would like to speak with Michael and Julie regarding your health & nutrition needs, or to schedule a private consultation, please contact us here.